The Richard Rush papers consist of 31 letters, spanning 1812-1856. Rush wrote 19 of the letters; his wife Catherine wrote 4; his brothers, Samuel and William, also wrote a total of 4, and miscellaneous writers contributed a few additional items.
Most of the correspondence in the collection is political in nature. Several letters from the War of 1812 period refer to battles, pirates, and the burning of Washington. On September 7, 1813, Rush wrote to John Binns, agreeing that it had been an error to attack York instead of Kingston and also to leave "the fate of Sacketts harbour [sic] suspended by a hair." In another letter, he stated that he did not believe that the United States should treat light cruisers from "Carthegena" (Cartagena) as pirates (December 26, 1814). A series of four letters written to Rush from his wife, Catherine, gives updates and family news from Piney Grove, Virginia, where she and the children resided in the summer of 1814, in order to avoid the dangers of Washington, D.C. The correspondence mentions the burning of "poor Washington," and reports rumors of the looting of Georgetown (September 3, 1814).
Letters from the post-war period include one from Rush to his partner in the Rush-Bagot Agreement, Charles Bagot, lending him books of speeches by Richard Brinsley Sheridan (January 22, 1817); one to Nicholas Biddle concerning problems with Alabama banknotes (January 21, 1829); and a letter of May 16, 1853, in which he called Harriet Beecher Stowe "the authoress of that systematic and carefully-wrought 'log-cabin' libel against the South," and fretted that she would influence English nobles and possibly "feed a war." Also present are letters from William and Samuel Rush, younger brothers of Richard, to their mother, Julia. These contain family news, references to Richard, and political opinions. In his letters of July 7 and July 27, 1831, Samuel Rush expressed his wish that Richard would support Henry Clay, and wondered in the latter if Richard had been turned against Clay by antimasonry.
The latest items in the collection are a series of eight letters between Rush and Major John S. Williams, who wrote a book on the invasion of Washington by the British. They document Rush's suggestions and corrections to Williams' work, as well as Williams' presentation of the book to George B. McClellan in 1864.